I finally finished Susie Orbach's Fat is a Feminist Issue 2 - including writing through all of the exercises - in July of 2014. One of the exercises became the basis of how I celebrated my birthday in 2015. When I wrote about that I wrote that there was another one I wanted to do, and that I was going to do it in 2016. I was a year late.
Walking through the visualizations of "The Ideal Kitchen" had already paid off, because that's how I realized I didn't like cooking. I don't hate it. I can find it gratifying, and healthy and economical meals practically require it. It's just not something I would do for fun or relaxation.
That's pretty minor as far as epiphanies go, but I was in a place where I was taking more on and my family assumed I enjoyed it so they weren't thinking about it. I could have wasted a lot of time on it. I still have motivation to do a good job with what we eat, but I also feel freedom to simplify and take shortcuts sometimes. That doesn't sound overly radical, but setting clear priorities that include your needs (not only others' needs) and getting rid of guilt can be surprisingly revolutionary.
The thing with the exercise was that before you started visualizing the ideal kitchen (along with what food is stocked and how you feel about it), you were told that it was not time to cook yet. I suspect that part was to just give enough distance that you could have a sense of remove, but that ended up being the part that stuck with me. Thinking about being alone, so therefore able to nap or take a bath or go get a massage - and imagining the silence - that created the vision with the strongest hold.
It felt like a pipe dream, but so had The Chinese Meal initially, and that ended up being a reality and a very good evening. If one thing you want can happen, then you can't really rule out other things happening.
Much like taking Mom to Disneyland, it was still just going to be something that would happen someday after my finances were more solid. That's why I needed to explain about cashing out the 401K - all of these things that were desired but not possible are made possible by it, despite some reservations and worries. Also, while Disneyland became more important after Mom started deteriorating; going on retreat became more worrisome.
I do believe there has been guidance, and that is one thing that comforts me. For example, one thing I had not thought about is that January is not a big vacation time. Families with children in school, and people who want to spend the holidays with their families, do a lot of travel in December, and January is too soon to go again. That led to better pricing, which was a relief.
Remembering there was a holiday also helped. Julie had MLK Day off anyway, so while asking her to commit her day to our mother is still asking for something, it was not asking her to give up personal leave or rearrange her work schedule.
The most important thing about the retreat is that it was doing something just for me. I expect to enjoy Disneyland, but I am doing that for Mom; her needs will have to go above mine. Going away and having a day entirely for myself was only for me.
That is not to say that it will not benefit anyone around me. Understanding that helps some people justify taking their own time, but it is even better if they can see that they are reason enough on their own. Someone else can watch the kids for a little while. For one day the office can be closed. The obstacles vary but the need for rest doesn't.
Mainly, one of the things that came out almost two years ago was that with all I was doing, there was nothing left for me. I am the only one who can change that. If I leave myself for last, I will run out before I get there. It's easy to do, but it hurts you.